She was young, handsome, healthy, and happily married. But a fatal car accident has redrawn all this. She had to fight for many months for her life under expert medical care to survive as a paraplegic limited to a wheelchair. That was the end of her marriage as her husband walked away from her life as he could not imagine his life with a physically limited person. He broke the promise to stick to each other “until death does us apart.”
Marriage is most clearly an area where loyalty in ties is tested but not the only one. These could be relationships within the larger family, relationships in workplaces or business partnerships.
The search for a perfect model for loyalty in relationships lands us at the biblical image of the faithful God.
First, God’s faithfulness is not time bound. God remains faithful to his people to a thousand generations (Deut 7:9). Israel’s history testifies that God has been faithfulness for generations beginning with Abraham and all patriarchs to all generations that followed. Their history has been a history of God’s faithfulness. The Bible affirms that God’s faithfulness will continue.
Second, God’s faithfulness is not reciprocal while human faithfulness is reciprocal. We often insist that “scratch my back, then I will scratch your back”. We cease to be faithful when people turn unfaithful. However, God is different, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He can’t deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).
Finally, (though the list is not exhaustive) God is most reliable (faithful) in the most unreliable circumstances. Saint Peter writing to the persecuted churches wrote that those who suffer should entrust their souls to God who is the “faithful creator”. God is the only one we can trust in the most trying circumstances. God will never allow us to suffer more than what we can endure. “The faithful creator” knows the limit of our endurance.
Saint Paul adds: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13). The “faithful creator” protects those who suffer according to the will of God.
It may not be possible to follow God’s example in all its perfection; however, it is still the model and inspiration. Faithfulness to marriage partners needs to be undivided and should last until both partners are alive, not just when they are healthy and prosperous. Faithfulness to each other (spouses, friends, colleagues, etc.) should survive the test of struggles and sufferings. We must strive to be faithful, even when faithfulness is not reciprocated.